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Old 14-11-2016, 19:09   #1
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Semi-flexible solar panel failures after 14 months

Last August I purchased 6 of 100 watt ApolloFLEX “semi-flexible” solar panels from Budget Marine in Sint Maarten. The panels were wired in series pairs and these three pairs paralleled into a Tristar MPPT 150V controller. The panels are mounted flat on the flybridge roof of our catamaran and have provided reliable power for a year, usually kicking out around 35 amperes at mid-day. In mid-August we parked our boat in Grenada for hurricane season and returned three months later to find that three out of the four panels no longer function. Only one series pair is operating and its open circuit voltage is 30 volts instead of the 38 volts we saw 14 months ago when we installed them. I am trying to contact Budget Marine to see if they have any technical support but notice that they no longer carry the ApolloFLEX brand on their website.

Has anyone else experienced a problem with this brand? The terminal block at the panel is sealed and the company flyer warns the user not to tamper with it; I just have access to the cable that is provided. Any thoughts on diagnostics?

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Old 14-11-2016, 21:36   #2
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Re: Semi-flexible solar panel failures after 14 months

Renogy also quit offering their "semi-flexible" panel after early failures. At least they were good enough to replace our failed panels with a standard rigid replacement, no shipping, and a refund for the difference.

Stay on your supplier...

Good Luck.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time"
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Old 14-11-2016, 21:45   #3
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Re: Semi-flexible solar panel failures after 14 months

Actually renogys subsidiary hqst solar handles all of their flex panels now. But personally if possible I would rather have rigid panels . Better efficiency for the area they cover. Than comparable flex panels.
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Old 17-11-2016, 13:01   #4
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Re: Semi-flexible solar panel failures after 14 months

We had one renogy flex panel fail, and they replaced them all with rigid and gave me some money back. Great customer service.

We had 8 100w flex panels, 4 renogy and 4 lensun. The lensun are still going strong... they are mounted on aluminum.
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Old 01-12-2016, 04:03   #5
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Angry Budget Marine Sint Maarten product support

Three e-mails and a phone call to Budget Marine in Sint Maarten had produced no discernible result, thus we sailed 400 miles north from Grenada to visit them on site. Two more phone calls, four store visits, a total of ten days effort and the store manager, Eric Knight finally stated to me that Budget Marine have no technical support and their customer responsibility is strictly limited to passing through to the customer, any warranty support provided by the product manufacturer. Since the UK supplier of ApolloFLEX solar panels could not be contacted, there was / is effectively no warranty on the product. He did however offer me a generous discount if I buy new replacement panels from their store.

I contacted the “non-contactable” UK supplier myself and they confirmed that they “used to” sell ApolloFLEX panels but the company had ceased operating. The gentleman I talked with thought they might have been bought out by Solarworld in the USA. This produced an address in Florida but no working website. The name “Euro-Line” kept coming up but an internet search just provides a trail of broken links to non-working or non-existing web-sites. The sales brochure for Apolloflex panels bragged that they were manufactured in the UK, an obviously false claim. The on-line pictures of Euro-Line’s German manufacturing plant look more like a downtown real estate office. An article on Australian news indicated a solar supplier with an almost identical name and product, was fined for claiming to have been made in Australia and was actually a front for a Chinese supplier.

This has been an expensive education for me but now I have been burned to the tune of $3,200 plus installation costs, I still need working solar panels. Are the heavy fixed panels, weighing as much as ten times the weight of the semi-flexible panels, the only reliable way to go? Is there a viable manufacturer out there somewhere, that might provide a product that would survive a marine environment for a couple of years?
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Old 01-12-2016, 08:23   #6
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Re: Semi-flexible solar panel failures after 14 months

In 2012 I installed 4 Enecom HF130 W panels on my binimi.
One of them failed after one year and the producer sent me a new one at shipping cost.
In 2014 one silvery wire get broken and the panel get so hot that burnt himself and did an hole on the bimini fabrics. In any case all the panels were quickly deteriorating at that time.
Luckily in EU the warranty is 2 years and the maker recognize its fault, so after several emails and phone call I got 4 new panels.
In the meantime I downsized the boat, so I've installed just 2 of them on my new boat, so far so good.
From my experience and from what I've learned talking with the tech people from Enecom, the flexible panels are more delicate than the traditional ones. In addition they are quite new, so the makers are trying to improve the product and we are testing it!

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Old 01-12-2016, 18:28   #7

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Re: Semi-flexible solar panel failures after 14 months

I've purchased a lot of grid tie stuff from these guys.

Here's a 120 watt flexible for a great price:

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